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The Political Vision of the ANC Youth League

1 June 1996

YOUTH MOBILIZATION FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF PEOPLE`S POWER!

INTRODUCTION

April 1994 marked an historic breakthrough in the struggle for democracy in our country. This was a culmination of the struggle for national liberation by the masses of our people led by the African National Congress. This victory marked a significant departure from a colonial system spanning over three centuries. The accession of the ANC to government was therefore not merely a change of parties in political office, but rather a fundamental moment which lay a new foundation for the fulfillment of our people`s aspirations.

This democratic breakthrough would not have happened had it not been for the contribution made by all our people in their varying sectors and strata. Key amongst these is the role played by the youth through the three centuries of oppression. This role was given organizational expression by the founding of the ANCYL in 1944, an occasion which can be singled out as a watershed that propelled the youth into the broad front line of the liberation forces.

In the last 53 years the ANCYL established itself as an active, militant and leading youth organization in the country. At its founding, it provided the ANC with a clearer creed of African Nationalism which for the first time, enabled the ANC to clearly appraise and understand the South African conflict, and hence formulate a radical and militant program of action. The result was the mass defiance campaigns which resulted in the rooting and popularizing of the ANC among the masses of the people. This sowed the seeds for a militant and radical ANC which has culminated in the April breakthrough.

Commencing in that period, the ANCYL produced successive leaders for the ANC, an outstanding tribute to its role, function and mission. To this end it has provided an essential layer for mass mobilization and strategic guidance of the democratic movement and the provision of the next generations of cadres that eventually ascend to the leadership of the whole movement. Its members have been part of all facets of ANC life, inside and outside the country.

The ANC YL drew the youth into brave and daring political action, inspired and rallied them behind the vision and programs of the ANC. It has played a leading role in youth mobilization, organization and leadership.

The ANCYL could achieve the above because it is a youth league of the ANC, cared for and nurtured, enjoying organizational autonomy, the trust and confidence of the South African youth, the ANC and the general masses of South African people.

The triumph of the national liberation struggle over the historic injustice of apartheid-colonialism, led to the formation of the GNU and adoption of the RDP. This created space for democratic forces to chart a way forward for the country as whole through the newly acquired political office in government. The interim constitution and the formation of a government based on the will of the people was a revolutionary break with the past. A qualitative element of the NDR had been accomplished. This presented the ANCYL with new challenges.

AN HISTORIC VIEW OF THE EVOLUTION OF SOUTH AFRICAN SOCIETY

The struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa was essentially an anti-colonial struggle. Beginning in 1652 Dutch and British colonialists waged wars of conquests against the indigenous population to usurp their land and its riches and to create an outpost which would act as a source of natural resources, as a terrain of expansion and settlement, and as a market for their goods. Great Britain finally established its final authority over the full extent of South Africa at the end of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899- 1902.

African communities from the Cape to the Limpopo waged heroic resistance to colonial occupation. Despite being out-gunned, they showed rare stoicism in many battles spanning two and a half centuries. However, their resistance was fragmented among and within various ethnic groups, and it could not stand the tide of superior armed force backed by developed economic and political base of the imperial powers. The defeat of the Bhambata rebellion in 1906 marked the end of the wars of resistance.

Colonial authorities also imported slaves and indentured labor from Asia. These communities became part of South Africa’s colonial society, essentially denied constitutional rights and subjected to varying degrees of oppression. Most of the white settlers resolved to make this country their home and in their world view, an "independent" extension of the colonial metropolis.

With the above decision, we saw a development of a new form of colonialism referred to as Colonialism of a Special Type` (CST). In CST the colonizers and the colonized live in the same country albeit with different rights, powers and privileges. A distinguishing character of the classical colonial period.

Colonialism preceded the emergence of a capitalist economy in South Africa, accompanied by the forceful proletarianization of the African people, through the introduction of a set of systemic taxes and other measures designed to force them into urban areas to provide cheap labor.

With this period, developed a political system, at first reflecting the old pure colonial relations and evolving to a modern state of apartheid. However, this political system was characterized by a sharp, life-and-death conflict between the oppressed and their oppressors. This conflict passed in stages and phases until the 1994 democratic elections which marked the victory of the democratic forces.

The intensity of struggle delivered a situation of negotiations between the national liberation movement led by the ANC and the enemy forces led by the NP. The fact that these forces had not defeated each other in battle produced a difficult situation where each of these forces attempted to strike the best deal for itself during negotiations. On the one hand, the enemy sought to preserve minority privilege. On the other, the democratic forces sought to influence the outcome of this process to reflect the most fundamental interests of the oppressed and fighting people of South Africa.

A milestone as it may be, the 1994 elections breakthrough only placed the democratic forces to some elements of political power, the bulk of which still remains in minority hands who still seek to use to undermine transformation. However, since 1994, major strides have been taken towards the fundamental transformation of this country; a foundation for a better life has been laid, we need to build on it.

The role of youth within that evolutionary process

There is no youth focused recorded history regarding the role of youth during the colonial period. However, as the most energetic force of society, they played a significant role in that period, notable in colonial wars as part of amabutho. As part of the Command and as foot soldiers, organized in their youth battalions they contributed towards the fight to stave off colonial invasion.

As colonialism took new forms, so did new forms of resistance start to emerge. The ANC was founded in 1912 with the purpose of uniting the African majority in pursuit of non-racial democracy. It is in this context that the youth came to the fore championing action against an unjust system that excluded them. In this regard, the students youth quickly developed a political and class consciousness ahead of other youth sectors, owing to their strategic station in the centers of learning and knowledge. They turned these centers into assembly points where they mobilized and took actions. They also served as an intellectual core for the movement. Many earlier leaders of the liberation movement emerged from this section of youth.

It was mainly this youth that founded all youth organizations in South Africa, especially the democratic youth organizations. It was largely them, together with other youth sectors, that led the popular youth struggles in the late 1940s, during the Defiance Campaigns, mobilizing for the Freedom Charter in the 1950s and more recently in the 1980s against apartheid. On many occasions they ended the political hiatus caused by the incarceration of the leadership of the democratic movement. The students youth became a factor which the regime was forced to eventually contend with.

The development of mining produced a situation where the African youth were forced into the mines. Whilst working there, these youth played a critical role in the building of the trade union movement. They also became active in the national liberation movement, and played a key role in the founding of the ANCYL and other struggles waged by youth.

Yet among the youth struggles are found the unemployed youth. These became very active within the democratic youth movement. These consist of youth who were forced out of school and could not amass the skills requisite to get employment. This is the most disadvantaged youth constituency which can be regarded as marginalized.

TASKS OF THE ANC YOUTH LEAGUE

The ANCYL reinforces the ANC, drawing youth into politics behind the vision and programs of the ANC to actively participate in the NDR. It complements the work of the ANC amongst the youth, and is a rallying point for all youth and progressive youth organizations. To accomplish this, it engages in political and organizational programs utilizing its organizational autonomy to pursue growth and development, of course assisted by the ANC.

It champions youth interests through a focused youth development program. It has a National Youth Policy serving as its guideline for making an input on the question of national youth development. This is pivotal because youth hold a fundamental stake in the success of the transformation effort. Hence, in order that the youth can be empowered to make an input in this effort, such a program is particularly important on the side of a youth organization whose parental organization has been entrusted with the onerous and unprecedented obligation of leading the creation of a better life for all SA people, especially the poorest of the poor. And, the majority of our own members are poor and or come from a poor background !

CHALLENGES TO THE ANC YOUTH LEAGUE

The democratic breakthrough of 1994 presented the democratic movement with numerous opportunities for making the dream of a better life a reality. These opportunities were also presented to the ANCYL. This was accompanied by new objectives conditions within which the ANC and the democratic movement would have to operate. At an international level the continuing globalization of capital has given rise to new conditions and a new objective reality. Domestically, victory over apartheid has also widened the scope which calls for the deployment of youth in other terrains of struggle to deal with governance and transformation. All this has brought under the microscope the need to develop a clearer vision and to map out a new path for the youth in this country. This process, however, is accompanied by a counter-revolutionary programme which seeks to undermine and to frustrate the democratization process. This becomes an added dynamic we have to understand and be lively to as it will indicate the progress made in consolidating the democratic revolution.

GLOBALIZATION

The liberation of South Africa enjoined it with the entire global community where it is expected to contribute towards global relations. In short, the globalization process and system is upon us.

The system of capitalism today enjoys dominant sway over virtually the entire globe. Globalization is at the heart of international matters today, at a social, economic and political level. The process of globalization is being driven by the economy and the advances in science and technology. The world economy today is characterized by the emergence of a global market represented by the movement of capital, goods and services to all parts of the world, unrestrained by national boundaries or differences in political systems.

There has emerged a global market which is being entrenched as a permanent feature of human existence as a result of the continuing technological revolution. Capital is being entrenched in fewer and fewer private hands, wealth is being concentrated in fewer private hands and countries, and the gap in wealth and income between countries is widening.

This has created a situation in which the national sovereignty of some states is being lost to an evolving system of international governance. The undermining of national sovereignty varies from one state to the other, according to the economic strength of each country. The initiative on national economic policies is being lost to multi-national institutions and to considerations of the global markets. The concept of the "free markets" is becoming an illusion, as multi-lateral economic institutions are determining binding policies for all countries.

More and more, political interventions are becoming necessary to regulate the economic situation.

What is clear, though, is that globalization is not the creation of particular neo-liberals elsewhere, it is a result of a complex evolution of human society and the systems this society has put forward. It is an objective situation whose articulation at this historical conjuncture largely reflects the dominant ideology in the world. South Africa cannot simply dismiss this process and seek to regard itself as an exception that can resist it.

There are opportunities that are created by this process which we need to exploit in our favor. South Africa must strive to strengthen its collective and institutional capacity to influence decisions that, from time to time, emerge from the system of international governance. We need to champion the mobilization of the entire world, especially the poor, against world poverty and social injustice. The "ganging up" of poor countries, their cooperation in the exploitation of the opportunities of the technological revolution, sharing of knowledge, information and resources and the continuous aggressive engagement with the wealthy countries must be pursued. This requires political and economic cooperation among these countries, and with those countries governed by progressive movements.

DEALING WITH THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION

First, every revolution is about power. Secondly, every revolution has enemies who will always strive to undermine and defeat it. Therefore, every revolutionary movement that is blinded to this historic fact is due to lose its head to counter-revolutionary forces.

In South Africa, the counter-revolution exists in the form of those that seek to derail or even reverse this transformation so that they will continue, as much as they can, to cling to apartheid privileges. They would want to see change in form, not in content. These forces continue to hold some key and very strategic centres of power.

However, we must guard against labelling every opposition party as counter-revolutionary. Even if some may be, the nature of our democratic advance compells them to seek clandestine and even innocuous ways to advance the counter-revolution. As long as these forces carry out their opposition to change within the ambit of the constitution and the law, they must be treated as legitimate expressions of these real contradictions. Counter-revolution is, narrowly, a combination of aims and forms of action that are mainly unconstitutional and illegal, to subvert transformation.

The democratic movement must, therefore, not lose its guard and lull itself into a false sense of security. It must resolutely transform and take firm control of the state machinery, an essential instrument of transformation. It must use the centres it has a foothold in to expand the frontiers of popular power. It must address the real grievances of the people.

The South African youth must tackle the counter-revolution. They must mobilize the masses behind transformation and ensure that at no stage do people get confused. They must creatively, resolutely and consistently expose the machinations of counter-revolution and drive the democratic movement to root out their networks. They must set the agenda in the battle of ideas, and drive the democratic government, always, to respond promptly to the grievance of the people. They must acquire the skills requisite to enable them to provide the democratic state with a loyal state machinery.

PUTTING YOUTH IN THE CENTRE STAGE OF TRANSFORMATION

The monumental role the South African youth played in the popular offensive against apartheid cannot today be disputed. The new dispensation has thrown forth the need to mobilize youth to, once again, occupy the centre-stage of transformation. Many young people were confused by the new dispensation, and interpreted it to spell an end to struggle, and did not understand that the significance of this dispensation lay in the need for popular youth participation in making transformation a success.

The democratic South Africa is more about youth; they will live in the future South Africa being constructed today. Hence, they must be mobilized for transformation through various political, social and developmental programs in which they have an interest. This will enable them to decide the destiny of our country.

ORGANISATIONAL CHALLENGES

The change in the character, nature and orientation of youth caused by political, social and economic changes in South Africa may result in youth becoming less political, opting for other activities rather than politics. This will require that we develop an appealing program that is fully appreciative of these changed and changing circumstances, that is creative and innovative enough to draw youth into the ANCYL.

The direction the ANC is likely to take with regards the NDR will have a great impact on the ANCYL. As the NDR evolves, its challenges will arise more acutely, and political permutations will express themselves more sharply and differently, hence compelling the ANC to either remain left or shift to the right. History abounds in the Middle-East, Cuba, Angola and Mozambique where the party, once a revolutionary national movement, is so impacted by social and political permutations that it resorts to either becoming a full-blown communist party or becoming completely right wing.

The ANCYL must retain its political profile, mass character and its partisanship to the ANC. There may be some factors that may compel it to lose the above, hence forcing the ANCYL to either become apolitical and just concentrate on the social interests of youth, or ditch the ANC and chart a new political direction for itself, allying itself with one or the other organizations. In this instance, it will cease to be an ANCYL.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

The ANCYL is an integral youth component and a mass youth organ of the ANC. It exists out of a conscious political decision of the ANC to establish an organization of youth which will rally youth behind its vision and champion their (youth) interests.

It is organizationally autonomous, and can hence elect its own leadership, hold own congresses, develop own program, administer itself and make its own financial transactions. This autonomy, however, also poses political challenges in that it enables the ANCYL to take its own political decisions without interference, subject, though, to the ANC`s rectification or even rejection.

To the extent that it is a youth wing of the ANC, the ANCYL is always bound by the political directive of the ANC, in whose formulation it participates. Autonomy does not mean that the ANCYL can develop its own ideological stance different from that of the ANC, but it can initiate debates within the movement on any matter, and can disagree with the ANC on certain matters. But, once a final decision is taken by the leading structures of the ANC, it becomes binding on the ANCYL, with an understanding that it can still pursue debates on its stances in a disciplined fashion. In itself, this autonomy provides the ANC with youthful political ideas and organizational vibrancy.

Often, autonomy leads to healthy tensions between the ANC and ANCYL. It enables youth to adventure, make mistakes, and be idealistic. However, it teaches them volumes about organization, discipline and politics. Youth must not be expected to be correct all the time.

The ANC needs a youth wing in order to ensure that its agenda becomes relevant to younger generations, who are regarded as the future of this movement. Therefore, the interest of youth in the strategic objective and programs of the ANC will ensure that its vision takes root among all generations of society. Failure to mobilize youth will lead to political decay.

The older and passing generations, at best, lay the foundations for, and usher in a new dispensation which enables, the creation of the democratic society; but the younger ones will shoulder the monumental task to carry that revolution to its logical conclusion and live in that future society.

In establishing and supporting the ANCYL, and because it seeks to be relevant to the younger generations, the ANC is bridging the gap between the generations found in it, and is welding together different experiences that will make it dynamic.

The ANCYL is a political and organizational preparatory school of the ANC, whose duty is to mobilize and educate those generations that must become the next layers of cadreship and leadership for the movement. In executing this task, the ANCYL has, at all times, a duty to bring into the movement youthful ideas that bring vibrancy and renewal.

To ensure the further growth of youth, the ANC must often give it responsibilities which will be regarded as part of the learning process. Hence, the cadre policy of the ANC must centrally target youth.

The ANCYL must always ensure that the ANC is united in action. It cannot allow space for inaction in the ANC. Unity does not mean that there are no disagreements any more in the movement about strategy and tactics, but it means that in spite of these, the movement continues to have a common platform, agenda and program. It coheres.

THE STRATEGIC PLAN

THE POLITICAL VISION

The building of a new united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society is the strategic political mission of the ANCYL. The social and economic emancipation of the Africans and black people in general is the content of our present struggles. It must mobilize all youth for this task, and strive for its success. The realization of this objective will be a result of a collective effort of all South Africans, not least the youth as the heirs to this future nation. Hence, the ANCYL has an historic mission to mobilize all youth for the consolidation of people’s power.

In the inter-play of political and social forces the ANCYL must remain committed and allied to the poor. The danger is always there that due to social changes in the country, the ANCYL may begin to express petty-bourgeois tendencies which have no relation to its commitment to the poor. This commitment to the poor must always reflect itself in the political vision and programs of the ANCYL.

The ANCYL remains committed to revolutionary nationalism which commits it, at this moment, to the social and economic emancipation of the Africans and black people in general. It, particularly commits the ANCYL to the interests of the poor of this country.

A challenge awaits the current generations of youth. The substance of the democratic revolution will, at some stage, be accomplished. The current contradictions blurred by the outstanding resolution of the national question will sooner or later arise sharply. At that stage, the ANC will be forced, whilst it strives to manage these contradictions in society through, inter alia, the mechanism of the democratic state, to express itself clearly.

The ANCYL must, therefore, lead the ANC towards those social forces, the poorest of the poor, that have an interest in the fundamental transformation of this society, who possess the best ideological, political and organizational will and capacity to carry the democratic revolution to its logical end, and even to transcend it.

To that extent, the ANCYL must strive for the consolidation of the Alliance. The Alliance will continue to have within it some creative tensions arising out of the social forces represented by each component of the alliance, but those tensions must be managed in a manner that is political and matured, that appreciates that by the very character of the NDR, there shall continue to rise, sometimes sharply, contradictions in both the social forces represented by the democratic movement as well as in the management of those contradictions.

The deepening of democracy in SA is yet an unconsolidated challenge for the ANCYL. All institutions, political, social and economic must be democratized. Accompanying this is the need to combat the counter-revolutionary offensive by the enemies of the democratic revolution. Democracy must become embedded in the fabric of society. For this democratization project to succeed, the ANCYL must champion the empowering of the people through education and training so that they have access to resources, employment and a better life. This would enable them to access information, and therefore to participate uninhibited in the transformation of our country.

Central to the tasks of the ANCYL is the creation of a better life for all, particularly the poorest of the poor, through economic growth, job creation and redistribution. There must be a redistribution of the means of production in a manner, however, that does not just target a minute section of the disadvantaged, but in a manner that improves the lot of the majority. A holistic social and economic program is central to this development. We must ensure that the youth benefit substantially from these programs. Hence, we must strive to put in place such programs and institutions as would make this objective real.

The African Renaissance is central to the task of building a democratic and prosperous South Africa. South Africa cannot grow and develop economically as an island in an ocean of poverty all around it. The ANCYL must mobilize the SA, southern African and the entire African youth for this task. But, it must also mobilize the progressive youth movement throughout the world to play a part in this.

We must fight for the building and consolidation of an active democratic state that is an agent of transformation, committed to sustained economic growth which should uplift the standard if living of all South Africans, especially the poor. Such a state should encourage democracy, stability, security, sustained economic growth in the region and continent.

We must influence the character of South African youth, and resist their depoliticization, and must always strive to keep them organized and mobilized.

AN ECONOMIC VISION

The ANCYL`s economic vision aims for the creation of a strong, stable, dynamic and balanced economy for both South and Southern Africa which eliminates poverty, focuses on an increased investment on human resources development, infrastructural development, job creation and the creation of a better life for all. This economy must empower black people in particular; and must eradicate youth unemployment and other social hardships.

Within the context of globalization, the ANCYL must champion an economic vision that fights poverty, meets basic needs of the disadvantaged majority and improves the lot of South African youth in particular. It must close the chasm between the rich and poor, exploiting all human skills and achievements, especially in the fields of science and technology, to alleviate the hardships of the poor and give them a better life.

Attention must be paid towards addressing the youth unemployment crisis. The vision must be to make youth successful job-seekers, as well as successful job creators. Focus must be paid to those jobs that are lifetime in nature, and those that are most likely going to grow and provide lifetime opportunities to youth. Focus must be put on the question of skills training for youth and on information technology. This should also be linked to the building of opportunities of self employment amongst the youth that are financially viable and sustainable.

A strategy to create young entrepreneurs must be pursued in South Africa. It should not be viewed as a problem to create young black entrepreneurs (capitalists) in all sectors of the economy. Focus should be paid to the creation of small and medium enterprises who shall also contribute to the creation of jobs and wealth.

ORGANIZATION

The Character of the ANCYL

The ANCYL must remain a mass political youth organization. All its programs, regardless of their form, must have a clear political objective and content, and must ensure that youth recognize it as a custodian of their political and social interests.

The most strategic youth sectors that we must organize are the black working youth, the unemployed, the students youth and the professional youth. Among these, particular focus must be paid on the mobilization and education of the rural youth and young women. Broadly, the ANCYL must remain an organization of the poorest and the most disadvantaged sections of youth.

In line with the main content of the NDR, the ANCYL must also mobilize, organize and educate the African youth, and the black youth in general; and champion their interests.

The organization of working youth stands out as the most strategic responsibility that must ensure that this organization remains committed to, and directly led by, the working class. This will ensure a sustained commitment to the interests of this class. It will, further, retain the centrality and leadership of this class of the NDR. The working class itself must advance its own interests, and not necessarily leave that in the hands of other social forces.

The sector of youth which cries out the most for organization is the unemployed youth. This sector includes the out-of-school youth, the unemployed, under-employed and unemployable youth, mostly unskilled. Its mobilization, organization and education remains central to the strength and militant character of the ANCYL.

The rural youth constitute the majority of the South African youth. They have largely been excluded from organization, yet they constitute an essential force for the consolidation of the democratic revolution. Their organization will balance the character of the ANCYL and make it sensitive to their social and political needs.

Every youth organization finds its chief ideological direction from the intelligentsia. Therefore, students remain a critical sector for youth mobilization, organization and development. They will enrich the ANCYL with intellectual vibrancy and human resources requisite to build and strengthen an organization of a new and free South Africa.

Owing to the persistence of the gender question in social and political motion, young women must increase in both the ranks and leadership echelons of the ANCYL. A target must be adopted for both these sections, especially to increase the number of young women at national and provincial leadership levels. An institutional mechanism must be created to ascertain their stability and further rise and development in the leadership echelons.

The professional youth, which is very few in the ranks of the ANCYL, must be mobilized and educated. They possess skills and resources required by the democratic revolution, and the youth movement. Their organization will arm them for mature contribution in the ANC and the entire movement.

The organizational autonomy of the ANCYL remains central to its vibrancy. This will assure it of growth and development, and will ensure that it acquires experience and builds leadership, discipline and organization.

Organizing and Recruitment

In order to retain its mass base, the ANCYL must continue to creatively organize, recruit and mobilize new members into its ranks. Notice must be given to the changes in the youth constituency as a result of the new dispensation, and hence the ANCYL branches must innovatively engage in programs that attract new members and new generations of youth without eliciting the political nature and objectives of these programs.

A focused cadre development program, targeted at both old and new members, must follow this program in order that we continue to become a nursery, a political preparatory school, for the ANC and, as well, the broader democratic movement.

ANCYL members must be encouraged to engage in self-developing programs like collecting political material and reading it, reading newspapers, magazines and engaging in political and other debates that will build and develop them. Attending school and seriously participating in such structures as debating societies must also be encouraged.

Financial Viability

The ANCYL must become financially viable. It must develop long-term strategies and programs of ensuring this.

PROGRAM

BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT ORGANIZATION

The ANCYL needs clear structures, policies, programs, administrative capacity and financial resources.

It must become a completely democratic organization, with clear, effective and efficient structures and processes of democratic decision making and consultation. This requires that the organization must establish and strengthen information distribution to lower structures in order to empower its members to play an active and leading part in the formulation of organizational policy and direction.

All executive structures must always observe the highest level of democracy, and sensitivity to opinions from lower structures and members, always available to interact and share information and discuss issues with them. ANCYL leadership, at all levels, must become effective, visible, united, committed to their responsibilities and very hardworking. It must be fully appreciative of its leadership obligations.

The organizational machinery at all levels must become dynamic, creative and innovative in visibly taking up local campaigns and other issues like HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse of old and young women and children, the creation of local parks, arbor day, local agriculture, and others.

The ANCYL must develop an effective and efficient policy capacity in order to continue making an impact on youth development matters.

Cadreship development must become a central part of our work. We will certainly not be able to turn all our members into good quality cadres, but a significant number of them must be paid attention to. Attention must be paid to developing a young worker cadreship, a young women cadreship, and a young rural cadreship. Attention must also be paid to training new members and integrating them into the organizational and political culture of both the ANC and the ANCYL.

The ANCYL must become a political home for all young women. It must completely eradicate sexism in its ranks and must build a huge layer of cadres among young women, ready and capable to become leaders of the ANCYL. It must champion the social, political and economic rights for young women in society. It must seek to unite and mobilize all young women and must champion their empowerment so that they should take charge of their own destinies.

CHAMPIONING YOUTH INTERESTS

The new dispensation challenges the ANCYL to utilize the opportunities provided by being a youth wing of the governing organization to advance the interests of youth in society. In the new period, it must concentrate on education and economic participation. However, it must mobilize all youth for participation in reconstruction and development.

We must engage the private sector and government in an effort to address youth unemployment as a way of making them contribute to the national development.

Young small and medium entrepreneurs must be promoted to enable youth to participate in the building of this country’s economy; in creating jobs and wealth. Partnerships, joint ventures and cooperatives must be encouraged. We must campaign for the opening of access for youth into technology and finance.

Human Resource Development is central to the task of youth development. Education and training must be focused towards the creation of the skills most required by the nation, and must be in such a manner that it reaches to the majority hitherto unreached. Greater social investment into human resource development must be viewed as a investment into the future of this country.

Opportunities must be created for youth to have access to information technology through a focus on education and training, with a vision of increasing South Africa’s capacity to develop some of its own technology, and that of the world. The 21st century must be made a Science and Technology Century for South Africa.

We must engage government in creating access for youth in primary health care and social welfare. More affordable facilities must be built, closer to youth accessibility.

More sports and culture activities and centers must be built to create access and more usage by youth. Black youth must be exposed to other sports, and facilities must be provided for them to access those sports. Diversity of cultures must be made accessible to all youth.

Youth must be mobilized to engage in FREE community service as a manner of discharging their responsibilities to the nation, and contributing towards the building of this nation. Various areas where youth can contribute must be identified as a national program. Therefore, we must champion the formation of National Youth Brigades.

The ANCYL must continue to champion the lowering of the voting age to 16. In a modern country, characterized by an increased access to information, with this youth already making a mark in the development of this country, it is necessary that we should champion this cause.

AN INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM

The youth of today is growing up in a period of globalization, during a transition into the new millennium where there is emerging a general endeavor to redefine the world order which is evolving after the end of the Cold War, and an effort to carve an international consensus on the most urgent questions facing humanity.

It is a dynamic period of globalization where countries have established international economic and political forums that serve as a form of global governance. The nation-state as known before is disappearing and new forms of governance are emerging. All these forums are, however, being constantly reviewed and redefined.

Today’s world is dominated by the capitalist system wherein multi-national companies dominate and set the greater part of the agenda, dictating political and economic policies of governments throughout the world. This has developed a very unfavorable situation within which developing countries, in particular, must exist. National sovereignty and the autarky of states have been eroded.

The capitalist system itself has not resolved the urgent social and economic disparities within the most advanced countries themselves. Instead, the gap between the rich and poor people and countries continues to widen.

However, the task of revolutionary democrats and humanists all over the world is to, indeed, recognize dangers everywhere, but more critically, to identify opportunities that need to be creatively utilized and exploited in the search for a just, humane and equitable world order.

In search for such a world, the vision should be to advance an international progressive agenda, especially among the youth, wherein the interests of the poor are very urgently addressed.

It is urgent to promote a stable culture of human rights, economic development, global safety and security, sustainable use and development of the environment and natural resources, and a greater investment in human resource development, targeted at younger generations.

The new technological revolution provides immense opportunities for developing countries to creatively handle matters of development. The consolidation of regional blocs, and the emergence of a consensus among the countries of the South for cooperation among them enhances the opportunities for the "pooling" of their resources, markets and broadly, their economic power.

South Africa is an African country. Hence, our international priority is Africa. The end of the colonial regimes in Africa supposed to mark the beginning of a new era of freedom for the African people, resulted instead in the emergence of neo-colonial regimes in the greater part of the continent. These new regimes were oppressive, corrupt and predatory, feeding on the African peoples themselves. They were completely indifferent to the social, economic and political needs of their people. The entire recent history of this continent is indistinguishable from ethnic wars, coups de tat, dictatorships, poverty, illiteracy and disease. This led to the erosion of a culture of human rights and immense suffering for the African people far too much and far too long.

However, the end of the Cold War and the liberation of the last remaining outpost and bulwark of colonialism and international reaction, South Africa, ushered in a new wave of democratization on the African continent, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This new wave must be broadened, deepened and sustained. The continent must be based on the will of her people, and be singularly committed to their emancipation. There must be stable political leadership and stable societies.

Accompanying this wave must be the development and promotion of a culture of human rights. Respect for individual citizens of Africa is an urgent matter. Ethnic cleansing and wars, stamping over the rights of people must be ended. All the social, economic and political rights of the people must be observed and promoted.

This African rebirth is, most importantly, about creating a better life for all African people. It must empower the African people in order to enable them to make the best of the human of the human achievements in the field of economy. Africa must, therefore, strive for a growing and sustainable economy. What is certain, though, is that this economic condition is an essential element for the survival and consolidation of this African dream.

We must encourage regional and continental economic integration as a manner of improving trade and investment within the continent. Focus must also be paid on an appropriate use of Africa’s vast mineral resources and lands.

The path towards this Renaissance, the realization of this stable political system and improved economic condition, requires an increased investment in human resources development throughout the continent. This must be targeted towards the African youth in order to empower them with the necessary technical skills to play leading roles in the building of their continent. Education and Training are central to this renaissance.

The mobilization of the African, especially the South African youth behind the vision of the African Renaissance is a matter of strategic priority. This renaissance is about our own future. It must therefore become a centre-piece of the African youth organizations, of youth mobilization and unity throughout the continent. We must establish a continent-wide youth renaissance movement, and position the current generation of youth as a renaissance generation.

Towards this end, we must promote country-country youth relations, promote bilateral relations with democratic and progressive youth organizations of other countries, whilst we also seek to extend our influence and interface with even those youth organizations that do not historically fall within the fold of the democratic youth forces. We must strengthen and consolidate regional and continental organizations of youth, improve region-region cooperation.

The organization of the left youth must be encouraged and strengthened. Whereas there still exists divisions even within these forces, it is necessary that forces must be pulled together to establish a left youth agenda in the international sphere. The left youth must unite behind a common perspective of a just, humane world which shares common human values. This broad movement must involve youth and students, and that youth involved in other social movements.

The emerging consensus of the peoples of the South to "pool" together their resources and jointly coordinate their development must be enhanced. These countries must strive to shape the new world order. Their cooperation is a prerequisite to the emergence of this just and equitable system of international relations.

YOUTH MOVEMENT

One of the defining characteristics of the democratic movement is the popular mobilization of civil society, such that this society has come to play a leading political role in the transformation of their country. Within this society there are various organizations, articulating the varying interests of the sectors constituting it. And among those is the youth movement, consisting of political, social and economic youth organizations aligned to either the progressive or reactionary movement.

However, as a leading youth organization, we must continue to provide persistent and inexhaustible leadership to the South African youth movement in its general sense. We must reach out to winnable youth organizations and ensure that they whole-heartedly support the democratic project.

The progressive youth movement must remain militant, vigilant and critical. It must remain organized and active. In that regards, particular attention must paid to the organization of secondary school students, COSAS. Partners in this movement must remain independent, united by a common commitment to the NDR. Sectoral programs and identity must not be sacrificed. The ANCYL must earn the position of leader of the PYA.

This movement must continue being autonomous and independent, enjoying the confidence and trust of the elder generations and of the movement at large. It must continue championing the cause of the poor. To achieve this, it must play a central and forward part in the transformation process, always fearless and courageous, inspiring confidence in the elder generations that it is capable of leading and developing the youth, and of listening to constructive criticism.

It must not be afraid to make mistakes, and it must not strive to be correct all the time. However, it must adapt to changing conditions. In its views, it must reflect youthfulness and articulate the ideas and interests of youth without fear of reproach. It must always raise for debate those issues that the democratic movement at large is not discussing, not for sensationalism but because they are strategic and the youth do not fear to raise them

Indeed, the students movement continues to be an essential layer of the revolutionary youth movement in our country. Whereas they are militant and progressive, this militancy must not always be assumed, it is not a given.

Students are not a class, they originate from different class backgrounds. Owing to apartheid in South Africa, they have been more revolutionary, and more closer to the working class. In themselves students can never lead a revolution. This is always a class responsibility. Owing to their location in the centres of knowledge, they tend to become a good barometer for socio-economic pressures in society. They will, during revolutionary upheaval, be found on the side of the struggling masses.

The most important responsibility for the revolutionary movement is to guide them and give them correct political guidance and leadership. They need political education that will enable them to understand the causes of their militancy, the character of their social composition, the capabilities and limitations imposed by that character, the historic context within which this struggle is taking place and the nature of this transitional society and a democratic state we seek to evolve.

Its independence must be treasured by the movement as a whole, and it must be assisted to develop organizationally and politically. The continued existence of a political partisan students movement in this era of the democratic revolution is critical for the sustained mobilization of these forces for the democratic revolution.

An urgent question is the all-round organization of students for the tasks of the democratic revolution, and for their own particular interests. Caution must, however, be delivered to those that are organized that they should not fall victim to arrogance and be satisfied to walk alone, leaving behind the mass of students who might require further education and persuasion to join the democratic movement.

The question of a broad, non-party political students organization must not arise as a priority item in the agenda of the mobilization and organization of the students for the broader tasks of the NDR. Yet, this question must be entertained in so far as it relates to the mobilization of students for their narrow students interests, when we deal with the SRCs and national bodies of SRCs come into focus.

The leaning of the students movement towards working class ideology must be encouraged, but guided. The more consistently revolutionary the students are, as a socio-economic barometer of society and as the intellectual reserve of the movement, they will enrich the movement as a whole with new and fresh ideas every time.

This does not, in any way, mean that the democratic students movement must now become a narrow, sectarian socialist students organizations. This will alienate those progressive students who want to play a part in the broader democratic struggles but who happen not to be socialist. It will further open space for other organizations which may fill the chasm and turn the students in even politically incorrect direction. The interests of the democratic revolution are served better by a broad militant students organization whose leaning towards the poor does not make it sectarian in its approach to organization.

We must continue mobilizing the widest possible support, nationwide, for the National Youth Commission in order that in the pursuit of its objectives, it discharges its responsibility within an enabling environment. The success or failure of the NYC will be laid squarely at the door of the ANCYL. Duty remains to ensure that government shares the vision of establishing the NYC right into the future, according it the highest level of respect, recognition and assistance.

The completion of the process of formulating a comprehensive, holistic and visionary 21st century National Youth Policy and program is our immediate objective. The crying need for the South African youth for an intervention in their standard of life must be fulfilled by this policy and program. Hence, we must strive to ensure the highest level of profile and support for this policy, first among the youth, and then throughout this nation.

The consolidation of the SAYC, as a civil society umbrella voice for South African youth, remains our vision. Through this body, we must strive for maximum unity of South African youth behind their interests, but also behind the national interests of this country. This body must build patriotism among the youth, and must contribute towards the building of a united South African nation, uniting the South African youth in their diversity on a broadest scale possible.

CONCLUSION

Such are the historic tasks and challenges facing this youth organization. These challenges arise out of our living reality, the reality of the world and country we live. They further derive from the historic task of the ANC and our people, of establishing a national democratic society and transferring all power to the people. To that extent, we understand the historic mission of the ANCYL as being to mobilize all youth for the consolidation of this people’s power !

We remain a partisan mass political youth organization, led by the ANC and bound by its historic strategic objective. We seek to reinforce the ANC, to draw youth into the national democratic revolution, but to also champion their interests.

To the extent that we are an integral part of the national democratic revolution, we shall remain a broad democratic youth organization organizing specific sectors of youth for the tasks ahead. We seek to still make this youth the cutting edge of the revolution. We are committed to the interests of the poor.

As part of the world, we have a vision to create a just, humane world characterized by a culture of human rights, democracy and development. To that extent, we are committed to the African Renaissance, the rebirth of a dream Africa.

We want to build a brighter and better future where all shall live in peace, harmony, and justice. That future is no longer the dream of tomorrow, but the reality of today !